By Emma Okonji
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator, has stressed the need for synergy between the public and private sectors, with a view to attaining the goal of smart cities in Nigeria.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, made the call in Abuja recently, while presiding over a session of a conference on Smart Cities Nigeria, organised by the Federal Ministry of Communications. The theme of the conference was â€œBuilding Innovative Public Private Partnerships for Achieving Nigerian Smart Cities Vision.â€
According to Danbatta, â€œTo ensure the deployment of required infrastructure towards meeting the national broadband plan objectives, as well as building the foundation for smart cities in Nigeria, there is the need for partnerships and collaborations between the public and private sectors.â€
The professor of telecommunications however said that the partnerships should aim at aligning the governmentâ€™s objectives of driving pervasive broadband infrastructure for socio-economic development in the country and the objective of private sector for business opportunities.
â€œThis alignment of objectives requires innovative funding and financing mechanism as well as incentives that will provide the required impetus for the private sector to take lead in driving the attainment of smart cities in Nigeria,â€ he noted.
He observed that the governmentâ€™s role of providing clear policy and regulatory frameworks needs to be translated to concentrate actions in terms of articulating a clear roadmap, implementation plan and coordination mechanism towards the attainment of relevant stakeholdersâ€™ objectives.
Speaking further, Danbatta said: â€œInternet of Things (IoT) is the next big thing in the evolution of the information and communications technology space,â€ stressing that IoT is a key aspect of smart cities that Nigeria aims to achieve.
He listed areas in need of special attention as: expansion of required ICT infrastructure in the cities that aim to become smart cities, addressing power supply challenges, high Right of Way (RoW) charges, and multiple taxation and regulation.
Other challenges according to him are: unavailability of frequency spectrum, low level of digital literacy, non-effective communication of the value and benefits of smart cities to key stakeholders, and lack of business models that take Nigeria operating environment into consideration.